Invisible Scars: Would You Have Believed Me?

“Get the f-ck over it. I’m done with you being so crazy.” 

That is one of many texts (888 PDF pages worth of them, to be exact) between me and my “best friend,” the first person I ever loved.  I wish I could say that was the first and last time he spoke to me that way, but it wasn’t.

It’s easy to tell yourself that you would never allow yourself to be abused, but it’s harder to follow through when you don’t know what to look for. When I thought of abusive relationships, I pictured the scenes I watched in movies like “Enough,” where the spouse was clearly awful and the abuse was physical — that was all I really knew until I experienced otherwise. I used to tell myself, “I’ll never let myself get into an abusive relationship. And if I do, I won’t stay. I’d never let someone hit me.”

According to statistics from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, nearly one in four women and one in seven men in the United States have been a victim of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Of the victims who suffer injuries, only one in five will get medical attention and only half of them will report the violence to the police. 

The reasons for not reporting vary for each individual. They may be ashamed, or scared that their abuser will retaliate. Maybe they have children. But oftentimes, it isn’t reported simply because the victims don’t think they’ll be believed, and that nothing will be done. These are victims who have bruises and scars, physical evidence of their abuse that the world can see. But what about the scars we can’t see? 

A 2015 survey taken by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says that 48.4 percent of women and 48.8 percent of men have experienced some form of psychological abuse. Like victims of physical abuse, psychological abuse can continue to affect someone long after the abusive relationship has ended. Emotional abuse isn’t obvious enough for the world to see, and it often can’t be understood unless you are the one enduring the abuse, making it even harder to be believed. 

I was 22 when we met. He was 33. I was young, naive, inexperienced, and absolutely thrilled to finally get attention from a guy. After struggling with my weight since day one of puberty and having little to no confidence, I was convinced that no boy would ever like me. But then he came up to me at work one day and proved me wrong. Here was a guy, an older guy, telling me how much he liked me, how beautiful I was, and asking me out. He had a reputation. I’d been warned the first day of work that I was his type, but still, I fell, and I kept falling for more than three years.

He made it clear that I was not the only girl in his life, but he made sure that he was the only man in mine. When I wasn’t being love-bombed, I was being gaslighted so badly that I was convinced I was lucky to have him because “nobody else would want to deal with me.” Or I was being given the silent treatment for so long that all I could think about was making him talk to me again. If I made plans with a male friend, he’d get so jealous I’d feel guilty for days. But when I tried to explain to people why I was an anxious mess and constantly apologizing, they didn’t believe me. He was good at what he did. To everyone else I looked like the crazy one — I mean, he didn’t hit me, I didn’t have proof, why would they believe me? 

It’s hard to speak up for yourself when your self-worth and self-respect have been slowly stripped away from you, or when you try to tell mutual friends the way he makes you feel about yourself and they respond with, “You knew what he was like when you met, you asked for it.” It’s even harder to have your feelings validated when the response you usually receive is, “Does he hit you?” Well, no, he didn’t, I’d never even been afraid that he would. This was what I’d remind myself of when I’d cry myself to sleep at night. He doesn’t hit me, it isn’t that bad.

When I hear stories of brave women (and men) who are able to speak up about their abuse but are met with skepticism, I’m taken back to the moments when I tried to tell coworkers what was happening and why I frequently broke down at work, but they brushed it away. I watched strong women speak out against Larry Nassar (the former U.S.A. Gymnastics national team doctor accused of sexually assaulting over 250 girls) and tell the stories of the first time they tried to report him but nobody investigated. I remembered the first time I admitted to myself that what I was going through was abuse, I took a test that scored almost 100 percent that yes, I was being emotionally abused, and when I reached out to a friend mid-anxiety attack she told me to get over it. It wasn’t like he hit me. 

On March 12, 2019, thanks to my family, real friends, and therapists, I’ll be one year of No Contact. On September 30, 2018, I met someone, and when I gathered the courage, I told him. I braced myself for the reaction of- “But did he hit you?” Instead, I heard him say, “You know that’s abuse, right?” He believed me. 

20 Things to Do Instead of Scrolling

I get it – social media scrolling can be fun. You see cute animals, funny clips and learn some new things. But we all know it’s not a secret that mindlessly scrolling can be really bad for our mental health. 

Recently, I began to notice that my dependence on social media was growing, and then I’d be frustrated with myself when I would later tell myself I was “too busy” or “didn’t have the time” to practice my hobbies, increase mindfulness, or just pay more attention to what I was doing. It needed to stop. But at the same time, it felt like every time I did have the time to just hang out on the couch with my fiance and my dog, I suddenly forgot every hobby I have or everything I’ve been meaning to do. I’m a very visual person, and I love a good list, so I wrote some ideas down. This way, I can always refer back to them when I need a reminder that I have plenty of other options of what to do rather than mindlessly scrolling the social media feeds of people I probably don’t even know. 

I ended up sharing these little Post-It notes I keep on my office wall on Instagram and got a lot of positive feedback that these were things that other people needed, too. So, I thought I’d share them here, too. Obviously, not every one of these is going to relate to every single one of you, but I encourage you to make this list your own. Your mental health will thank you for it.

1. Color

I don’t care if this makes me sound like a 5-year-old; I absolutely love to color. I find it so relaxing and fun – give me a pack of crayons and a good Disney coloring book, and I’m happy. If you’re like me and can find yourself getting restless while just sitting and need to be always doing something with your hands, appease your inner child.

2. Play with Your Pet

Working from home, I feel bad that I’m simultaneously around my dog more but not always able to play with her and give her attention. I try to block out at least 20 minutes a day (besides our morning/evening walks) where I do something fun with her. Whether it’s taking her outside to play with her ball, going to get a Pup Cup, making a trip to the dog park, some sort of enrichment activity, or just taking her with me to run some errands – what better way to distract yourself than playing with a fluffy four-legged creature that adores you?

3. Read

I am a voracious reader and am so guilty of reading tons of AITA posts on Reddit when it would have been much more productive and impactful for me to read an actual book. It doesn’t have to be the most intellectual book out there or anything particularly stimulating. Just read. I read at least ten pages every night before bed, and I love it – why not do it more?

4. Blog

As we all know, I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from writing and need to get back into it. If I told myself I just have to write for five minutes a few days a week, I’d honestly end up writing way more and probably have at least a couple of posts a week, which would justify the newsletter I want to start.

5. Crochet / Knit

I have this super cute crochet kit of a cactus that my mom got me that I still haven’t gotten around to doing, but it’s on the list! My mom also recently taught me how to arm knit – I even made myself a blanket for my office. If there’s some sort of dexterous activity like this you’ve wanted to learn or get better at, it’s never too late.

6. Take a Walk or Just Sit Outside

Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Pexels.com

Fresh air is one of the most underrated things we have at our disposal every day to maintain our health. Getting outside for a little bit every time is vital to your physical and mental health and sleep schedule. If you don’t feel like walking, that’s fine – just sit and be present. Listen to the birds, feel the breeze… whatever you do out there is up to you.

7. Pray or Meditate

Spiritual health and mental health go hand in hand for me. Take some time to sit and pray, even if you aren’t religious. Or, find a little meditation video on YouTube. Just sit back and relax.

8. Design / Draw / Sketch / Paint

Again, just take some time to let your creativity flow!

9. Write a Letter or Call a Friend

When was the last time you actually wrote a letter to someone? My best friend and I love writing letters to each other – we’ve been doing it for almost eight years! I love getting snail mail and think we should all do this more. If you’re not a writer, that’s okay – instead of texting, call a friend to catch up.

10. Bake

I personally love to bake – I love how accomplished I feel when it turns out! It’s relaxing and fulfilling for me, and I love how scientific it is. If you’re not a baker, cook, grill, or practice some mixology, then call a friend to share it with.

[Quite] a lot going on at the moment…

It’s been a minute, and a lot has been going on. 

I have not been good at blogging, I know. I guess most of my good stories were from my Singleholic days, so now I’m trying to find out what my new *niche* will be… travel? Beauty? Lifestyle? All of the above? We’ll see. 

Until I figure that out, get ready for a lot of mismatched posts that may or may not go together. Honestly, I just miss writing. So, for now, let’s just do a little catch-up session, shall we?


Well, the biggest update from the last few months is that I got engaged! Yes, I was surprised (kind of), and I absolutely love the ring – but not as much as I love the guy who made me no-longer-a-singleholic. Who would have thought that a last-minute decision to rejoin Hinge and go on one last date (and on my birthday, no less) before leaving Boston would lead me here? Not me. 

He spent his Christmas in Florida, followed me to Arizona – giving up basically his whole life in Massachusetts – and helped me weather that craziness out there, and then moved to Florida with me so we could be closer to my family. He is the best dog dad and has taught me so much about myself. I have never felt so loved, appreciated, beautiful… all the good things. So, about a year after we started dating, he asked, and I said yes! You might think that’s fast, but my parents got engaged after three months of dating and celebrate 36 years this year! Plus, he and I moved in together basically after four dates, so moving ‘fast’ is kind of our thing. We are so excited and have been enjoying wedding planning. It’s been fun! 

Other than that, it’s been really nice to be closer to my family. I get to spend more time with my parents, which after so many years of living far away, I definitely love. I see my nieces and brother and sister-in-law often, and overall, I get to enjoy a lot of family time. Plus, everyone loves Florida, so we anticipate lots of visitors! 

I got involved in the Junior League here, so I have been able to get a bit of that community feel yet and hope to make some friends there! I need friends. While I have gone on a few walks with our next-door neighbor and made friends with a couple a block down, we haven’t actually “hung out” with anyone yet – but we are working on it. So, friends are in order! 


When we first moved back to Florida, I immediately started as a substitute teacher. I’d already applied and gone through most of the training in Arizona and just needed to do the background check portion. I subbed in quite a few different public schools in our county, plus once at my nieces’ school. It was… a lot. I love kids so much, but school is just so different from when I was there. The administration in a lot of the schools is clearly lacking. It makes me realize how lucky I am to have gone to school when I did. The kids all loved me – I was unanimously voted the class’ favorite sub on multiple occasions – but it was often sad. 

On top of that, I was also working part-time at Pure Barre – something I’d wanted to do for years! Unfortunately, the phrase, “You shouldn’t shit where you lie,” is very true. Seeing behind the scenes of a place that used to be my happy place absolutely killed the magic. Preparing for classes could be incredibly time-consuming. The management was nonexistent (no, literally, our manager was rarely around or reachable). Not a lot of support overall. And the last-minute schedule changes were stressful. I was also waking up at 4:50 am two to three times a week to teach the 6 am class, and then I couldn’t sub that day because I wouldn’t make it in time. The pay is not worth it – I did it for the free classes while I could, but I was happy to get out of that when I did. 

Luckily, I found an incredible job doing something I love at a company that ticks off so many of my boxers – remote, flexible schedule, work-life balance focused, and fun! I’m doing events for a tech company and absolutely love it. I like my team a lot, I love the flexibility I have, and I’m so happy to finally be able to hang out with Lottie all day and eat lunch outside when I want. 

I’m still working towards opening my own business someday. Originally, I was thinking about doing something with House of Colour – I went and had my colors done with my mom and LOVED the experience. Then, I spoke with someone, and she said that I could really make a great path working in real estate. So, I’m looking into both paths. Maybe there’s a way to do both? We shall see! 

Wedding Planning

Wedding planning has been so much fun! We have gotten so much done and are well ahead of schedule. I found my dress at the first shop I went to, and it was such an amazing experience. We’ve set a date, picked colors, booked our venue, found all of our vendors, and ordered our invitations!

We are starting to get more into the ‘details’ side of things – the rest of the decor, music, and all of that. There are a few things that we’re doing that I love! For one, I’m walking down the aisle to a string quartet version of what will later be our first dance song. We also really want to incorporate Lottie into our day! We are thinking of ways to do that. I’ve already written my vows… to be honest, I started writing them well before we were even engaged. 

My bridal shower and bachelorette party in New Jersey are coming up in just a few weeks. We are doing a disco theme, and I cannot wait to look like a full-on disco ball. Our tasting and my hair and makeup trials are all in July, so that’s the next big excitement to look forward to! 

Honestly, I just can’t wait to get married. I already feel like we are, but knowing that I get to officially marry my best friend in less than six months and start the next chapter of our life together is so exciting. I really feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Recently, I heard someone say that you and your partner need to be on the same page about marriage – is it the finish line or the start line? We see it as the start line – and the best is yet to come!

Photo by Sebastian Arie Voortman on Pexels.com

Home Life

We are currently renting a house, and it has been an adventure. To be fair, we got a great price for the area we’re in and the space we have, but we have already dealt with our fair share of home improvement projects, appliance issues, and a few other curveballs! It is definitely preparing us for home ownership. 

We finally got a dining table after five months of sitting at a fold-out puzzle table! Thanks to my mom for finding it and my parents for restoring it. We were very fortunate to have been gifted a lot of furniture and then got good deals on a lot of the other furniture we did purchase. 

Our neighbors are all very nice, it’s safe and so convenient to get to pretty much anything and everything! We like the area we live in a lot and hope that when we do buy, we’ll find a place near here. Our must-have is a pool for Lottie! Especially in the summer, she needs a good spot to cool off (okay, we do, too). Having enough rooms, of course, too for us, home offices, and any future needed bedrooms.

Hobbies + Such

Other than the big things, I’ve been working on getting back into a fitness and healthy eating routine. Right now, I’m saving money on gym memberships and boutique studios and mostly doing YouTube videos (which I love). I’ve been cooking a lot which has been fun, I’m trying out lots of new recipes!

Lottie has turned into a different dog, pretty much. She has mellowed so much but is still just so sweet and so good. I take her to as many places as I can. She loves having a yard and has made some little friends in our neighborhood.

I’m getting back into tennis, which I really missed in Arizona. I’m also going to start lettering again soon and am even thinking of starting a little Etsy shop for some of the things I create out of it.

We don’t have a ton of travel planned, which for a travel-loving Sagittarius feels WEIRD. But, last year, we had so much travel between the two of us. It’s been nice to actually allow myself to feel settled. We obviously have to start planning our honeymoon. We’re leaning towards St. Lucia! I would love that – beach, yes, please! We also would love to plan some trips to Scotland and Switzerland. I may be more okay with not flitting off every other week, but I will always need some element of travel in my life! I think once the excitement of the wedding, plus looking into buying a home, and getting settled in new jobs, has all died down, we’ll work on adding more travel back in. There are still so many places that I want to go!

So that’s been the past few months of my life in a nutshell! It’s been keeping us busy, and we’re slowly finding our groove – though we do need to find a good trivia spot! 

I know this was not one of my more poignant or exciting posts, but I am trying to get myself back in the habit of writing again. I missed blogging – but finding the motivation, energy, and inspiration has been hard! However, I’m making a promise to myself and you to make it a priority again. The next posts will have a bit more substance. 

But until then, thank you for checking in with me, and I can’t wait to tell you what’s next!

HOW TO LEVEL UP: 9 Habits to Implement in 2023

Everyone goes into the new year with a whole list of resolutions that, in all honesty, they’ll likely forget by February. But instead of creating a list of things you MUST do – like, go to the gym five days a week, or never drink alcohol again, or learn three new languages, it’s much better to instead add attainable habits into your life. 

The best way to achieve this is to add them one at a time – it’s just going to overwhelm you to try to do it all at once! So, go little by little. Take note of your progress. And see how much you can level up in just one year by adding these nine habits into your life.

1. Develop a self-care routine.

I know everyone, and their mother has been preaching self-care recently, but it’s for a reason! Taking time daily to work on yourself and show yourself some love allows you to give more to others. You can’t pour from an empty cup, you know? And yes, your friends and family should help to fill that cup – of course. But you also need to be able to fill it for yourself too. So whether it’s a 15-minute routine in the morning, 2 minutes on your lunch break, or an hour-long routine before bed, find what works for you. What your favorite influencer does might not work for you – that’s okay! Self-care has an emphasis on “self” – it has to work for you to work. 

2. Discover new, nourishing recipes.

This does not mean you must go on a diet or completely rehaul your pantry. As someone who got very caught up in the “clean eating” fad and ended up with orthorexia, I know from experience that obsessively reading ingredient lists is not fun. It’s also not sustainable or realistic. That being said, ensuring that you fuel your body with foods you like is essential. I’ve recently started cycle-syncing some of the foods I eat and when and noticed a difference. So make a promise to yourself that you’ll find even just one new, nourishing recipe a week to add to your rotation – whether you meal prep or not is up to you but I’ve found SO many good recipes lately that have made it so easy to keep my body and mind healthy and strong.

Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

3. Be mindful of what you consume.

This probably won’t come as a surprise, but what you see, hear, and watch on a daily basis has a huge impact on your mental and emotional health. I have been guilty of “comparisonitis” on a few occasions and because of that, I’ve become very intentional with who and what I follow. I follow people who inspire and motivate me, who support me, that I feel aligned with, and who make me want to be better because I deserve it, not because I’m competing or comparing. The same with what you read, watch, and listen to. Hey, I love my true crime podcasts just as much as the next girl, but I also know that I can’t listen to it every day. I mix it up with empowering music or educational podcasts. I set time limits on how long I watch the news, place boundaries with what news articles and books I read, and make sure that what I’m consuming media-wise fuels me just as much as the food I eat, friends I keep, and water I drink.

4. Find a fitness routine that works for you.

I cannot even tell you how many times this year I saw the “perfect” workout routine pop up on social media – but, the thing is, there is no one perfect routine for everyone! Every body is different and everyone has different needs, lifestyles, and environments. What works for me might not work for you. But again, movement is important. We all know this. So whether it’s a daily walk, strength training two times a week, biking three times a week, or some combination of that, finding a fitness routine that not only energizes you and makes you feel stronger and healthier, but that you actually ENJOY is key. You should never force yourself to do something you hate or that doesn’t make you feel good at the end just bcause it’s “cool” on TikTok. 

Pro tip: YouTube is FILLED with free workout videos! Try out some workouts on there to see what you like before committing to a gym or studio membership. 

5. Make time for what fuels you.

Easier said than done, I know. But if you aren’t finding time for your friends, family, and hobbies, none of these other things are going to do too much to help. Do you love to volunteer? Block off a few hours one day a month to sign up for a volunteer shift. Love to read? Start your bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier than usual so you can read a chapter before bed. None of this has to mean completely redoing your schedule or your life, but making time for what you WANT to do instead of just what you HAVE to do has been one of my top methods for improving my own mental health for years.


I have struggled with feeling worthy nearly my entire life. 

I always felt like I had to earn anything that I had. That I had to do something for someone to deserve them doing something nice for me in return. This was especially true for me when it came to relationships. I only deserved love if I was skinny enough, chill enough, hot enough, or smart enough. It all came down to being enough. And I never felt like I was. Like I was worthy of things just because I am. Not because of how I look or what I do. 

This took nearly 30 years for me to overcome and, to be honest, I’m still not perfect. 

A lot of my ability to overcome this feeling of unworthiness came from the help, guidance, and support of my amazing friend Ryin and her Soul Purpose Program. A good amount of it came from me simply growing up and gaining more experience and self-love, and confidence. But mostly, it’s been because I am finally with someone who reminds me every day that I’m worthy of the love he gives me. 

I have always said that to be in a good, healthy relationship, you need to be secure in yourself first. And I still think that’s mostly true. But I also think that was the wrong way to think for most of my life. 

When you think that you’re only allowed to have a relationship when you’re the best version of yourself, who is so secure and perfect on their own, it’s once again sending that same message. You have to be enough. But you don’t. 

Photo by Valentin Antonucci on Pexels.com

I will never be 100% “cured” of my anxiety or OCD. I will probably always have a tendency to overthink things. I’ll sometimes need some extra validation, and sometimes my life will be messy. And I deserve to be loved just as much with all of that as I do without it. 

Having grown up watching Disney movies, I knew I always wanted to be treated well by the man I ended up with. But, sometimes, it was hard for me to believe that I’d find it. I struggled to think I deserved it. But now, I have found it. And it’s incredible to have someone listen to my feelings. Who buys me flowers, helps me when I need support, and tells me I’m beautiful first thing in the morning. 

Yes, I’ve been to lots of therapy. I’ve meditated, journaled, done shadow work, and “dated” myself. Of course, that helped me to get to where I am. But finding someone to validate further the feeling of worthiness that I’ve worked to cultivate has made the biggest difference. Not because I need his validation or think my worthiness is contingent upon actually being loved… because it has helped me to embrace even the messy parts of myself. The parts that I tried to hide but now, after my boyfriend moved in after basically three dates, are impossible to. The parts that I now love just as much as the “good” parts of me. 

So, yes, working on yourself first is important. But, even if you’re not where you want to be or should be in terms of being your “best self,” you are still worthy of being loved. Wholly, completely, and unconditionally. And I hope that you find that with someone and with yourself.

Chapter 47: The Gentleman

Well, everyone, the moment has finally come. I have a story for you that is all good. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Evan, The Gentleman. 

Well, everyone, the moment has finally come. I have a story for you that is all good. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Evan, The Gentleman. 

I know, I said I deleted my dating apps – and I did! – but dating in COVID-era Boston was proving to be virtually impossible. I took myself out on dates and to restaurants and things, dressed cute to go to the store, and nothing. So I figured I only had a couple of more months; I might as well go back on and get a few final Boston stories. Which I did, like in my last edition of One Hit Blunders. But then, I matched with Evan on Hinge. 

Evan just had a good look to him, besides being attractive and having a nice smile. He had pictures in suits, not shirtless gym selfies. Also, he had a picture with who I guessed was his mom, not a fish. Finally, he actually answered some of the prompts and seemed to have a good sense of humor. So I swiped right. And he had swiped right on me because we immediately matched. 
We started to talk and hit it off right away. We were finding things in common left and right, and he just seemed super decent. He has a good job that he actually enjoys, loves his family, has hobbies and interests, and made me laugh. A lot.

Slight side note, around this time I was also realizing how superficial a lot of my friendships in Boston were. When we couldn’t go out to bars as freely, I realized that a lot of my ‘friends’ weren’t really people I felt like I could just hang out with. Or they were constantly hanging out with each other but not inviting me. And honestly, it hurt. But at the same time, it reinforced my decision to move. It made me feel even better about my decision to leave a lot of things behind – in my 20s, in 2021, and in Boston. I promise this is important in a minute, but anyway, back to the story. 

I also liked that Evan made plans to hang out with me pretty quickly. And those plans involved taking me to a steakhouse. He was even patient when I was with family in North Carolina for Thanksgiving and couldn’t go out quite as soon as he wanted. When I got back to Boston, he made plans for the next week on Tuesday. 

Photo by W R on Pexels.com

On that day, I hadn’t heard from him. This was a bit weird because he was usually really talkative so I checked in on him. I knew he’d gotten a COVID vaccine the day before so I thought that might be why, and I was right. He was feeling extremely under the weather and had slept most of the day. Evan asked if there was any chance I was free the next night. I did have a movie night planned, but we were able to reschedule to Tuesday, so Wednesday, my birthday, was officially free. So I figured why not break the biggest first-date rule EVER and go out on my birthday? 

I told Evan, yes, I could go out on Wednesday instead of Tuesday. But, that he couldn’t stand me up because it was my birthday. I made him promise not to make a big deal out of it, though. At the time he agreed, but on our date, things went a bit differently. 

He invited me to Del Frisco’s by the Seaport, where I’d never been, so I was excited. I took my time getting ready because I wanted to look nice – I mean, this was a steakhouse date, my birthday, AND likely my last date in Boston given my pending move. I wanted to dress to impress. 

Clearly, Evan appreciated it. When I walked in and found him at the bar, he was literally stunned. I’ve never had someone look at me like that. All he said was, “Wow.” And not going to lie, his pictures did not do him justice either. His eyes are seriously so blue, I couldn’t stop staring. 

We made our way to our table and he had me pick our bottle of wine. We had already decided on an Oregon red from 2017. First, I tried to pick the least expensive one but he quickly realized what I was doing and told me to pick the one I really wanted. I did. We also got some delicious steaks and lobster mac & cheese. Plus, he didn’t judge me at all for my love of rolls. 

He asked me tons of questions and I answered all of them. Our dinner lasted almost four hours. He had told me before we even sat down that he was just going to ask me anything and everything, and I don’t think there’s a single topic we didn’t discuss. He actually listened to my answers, even. I know this for a fact because several conversations before (over message) I’d mentioned how much I love cheesecake. When he went to the bathroom, he told the waitress (who he was EXTREMELY polite to – major bonus points) that it was my birthday and asked if I could get me cheesecake for dessert. And they did! I got some amazing, free cheesecake and it was an amazing end to our delicious dinner. 

After dinner, we walked out towards the water and I could tell Evan was close to ruining the moment by asking me the forbidden question. Quickly, I just told him – no, don’t ask. And he didn’t. 

We ended up going back to his place (get your mind out of the gutter) because, during dinner, he’d mentioned that he had been decorating his Christmas tree but needed help finishing it. I happen to be an expert Christmas tree decorator, so I offered my services. I helped him decorate his tree and then he paid for my Lyft home – truly, a gentleman. 

Chapter 46: One Hit Blunders, VIII

I know it’s been a minute, but I’m back again with another edition of One Hit Blunders! In this chapter, get ready to meet Jeremy, The DM Slider, and Jay, The Regular. Let’s start with Jeremy. 

First of all, I decided to go ahead and get back on Hinge. Just for the fun of it. Mostly because I decided I wanted to go to a Bruins game (my first ever hockey game!) before I left Boston, and I thought it would be fun to use it to try to find someone to go with to the game. That failed, and I went alone, which ended up being fun because I made friends, but I stayed on. I figured with just a few more weeks in Boston, I’d have some fun and go out to some new places. Nothing wrong with trying out some things and making memories!


I met Jeremy on Hinge, and he seemed pretty decent. We actually had a fair amount in common, and he didn’t shit on my love of Disney, which is always a plus. He also immediately asked me out AND made reservations. Kind of a low bar, I know, but that’s dating nowadays. 

After talking for a bit on Hinge, we decided to exchange Instagram handles because nowadays, that’s usually the next step, it seems. What a time. And once he had my name, man, did he slide RIGHT into those DMs. And stayed there. This isn’t the end of the world, but it just felt weird like he could’ve asked for my phone number at this point. As y’all know by now, I’m a very open person, and no topic is off-limits for me, so he asked whatever he wanted, but some things I was just sort of like, really? But we already had a date scheduled, and he had admitted to not being super experienced and a bit socially awkward coming out of COVID especially, so I figured I’d give him a chance.

As a note, though, I notice when a guy only wants to communicate via social media. I know I’m notorious for my fake number thing, but at least it’s a text message and not a social media app that serves as my primary form of communication. 

Sliding into DMs like.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The night of, he was late. To be fair, I was a bit late, too, because of the oh-so-fun experience of riding the T, but still. Where I was a few minutes late because my T got stuck, he was several minutes late simply because he didn’t leave on time. Strike one. 

While he was tall, objectively attractive, and seemed to be pretty put-together and not a total creep, I just wasn’t feeling anything when he first arrived. I thought maybe it was just my annoyance at him being late. He was pretty nice, though, and very funny, so I kept it up. Sometimes a spark can grow. I also gave him points because I’d told him that it bothers me when I do a drinks date during dinner time, and I get hangry, so he let me order an appetizer even though he wasn’t even hungry. So, there’s that. 

The date wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. I felt way more like I’d met a friend than I did someone I was legitimately interested in long-term, but he seemed pretty lax about it all. I think the fact I was about to move helped. So, when he asked if I wanted to go back to his place to watch TV, I figured why not. He didn’t seem creepy or weird in any way, and I was confident that I could get myself out of any situation I didn’t want to be in. So, we went back. 

All we did was watch “Seinfeld,” which I’m not a massive fan of, and “Parks and Rec,” which I just started, but it was relaxing. We did kiss, but it wasn’t very firework-inducing or anything. After a bit of all that, I said I was tired and decided to go home. He at least walked me down to my Uber, which was nice. And then we just never spoke again. 

I think he knew I wasn’t super interested, and in retrospect, I think the tardiness, communication, and lack of a spark just proved not to be a match on both ends. So that was the end of Jeremy. I’m pretty sure he still follows me on Instagram, but that’s it. On the bright side, I tried a new place I hadn’t been to before I left! 

Stay SCARI – How I Stay Safe While Solo Traveling

One of the things I get asked about the most when I talk to people about my experiences traveling solo is how I stay safe. Safety is essential to me. So, I have a lot of things that I do to keep myself secure when alone. Honestly, most of the tips are very standard and to the point. But, besides the self-defense courses and items that I have, I also developed a little way to remember my top safety tips. Stay SCARI.

S: Be Smart

This is a pretty simple one, and basically, cuts right to the chase.

First of all, do your research. If someplace is notoriously not the safest place to visit, even in a group, don’t go alone. There are several blogs and websites that can share insight on the safest countries and cities to travel to as a solo female (or male). Make sure you look at where your hotel is on Google Maps first. That way, you can confirm it’s in a good area and close to at least most of what you’re hoping to see. Request to be on a higher floor and book cars to and from the airport in advance (especially if you have very late or very early flights). And, make sure someone always knows where you are.

Before I go anywhere alone, I create an itinerary to note my general plans. I also add my hotel address, phone number, confirmation, and flight information and send it to my parents and older brother. That way, if they can’t get in touch with me for some reason, they know whether I’m doing something or if they should worry.

Don’t go to sketchy places. Carry some sort of self-defense item, even if it’s just a whistle or something. Don’t drink too much, and most importantly, do not tell everyone you meet that you’re by yourself!

C: Be Creative

This one goes in two directions.

First of all, be creative with your story. Minimal information is critical when talking to people around the area you’re visiting. One of my favorite parts of traveling solo is creating a whole new persona. I can give a fake name, say I’m from a different city, and have a different job. If people ask me if I’m meeting someone, I always say that either a friend is coming into town the following day. Or, that my boyfriend/fiance/brother/dad (any male relative) is on his way from the airport as we speak. When it comes to restaurants or bars, I try not to go to the same place more than once to maintain my “story”. I have told someone that I’m alone before, but it’s very much based on the situation and the vibe the person gives out.

II also like to research other hotels in the area. Then, if someone asks what hotel I’m staying at, I know the name of one that I can say instead without thinking about it.

Also, when it comes to self-defense and safety items, sometimes you have to be creative. I’d heard of these hotel door safety locks but quickly learned that they don’t fit on a lot of hotel doors. Instead, I take a hand towel and fold and roll it up to stuff it behind the door handle on my side of the room. This will make it harder for anyone to move the handle. Or, even just a basic doorstop that you can stick under the door on your side. Even if someone managed to get the door unlocked, it would be hard for them to open it. Which would give you a minute to prepare. Be able to use what’s around you, no matter where you are.

A: Be Aware

Again, this one is a give-in! For the love of God, please do not walk around with your face in your phone. You shouldn’t be doing that anytime or anywhere, but especially not when traveling to a new place by yourself! The same thing goes for walking around with earphones in – don’t do it.

Trust your gut. If someone is giving you a bad vibe, stop interacting and leave. If something doesn’t feel right, stop. Take note of your surroundings, listen to your intuition, and be ready to react at any moment. I’m going to be honest with you, if you don’t have good situational awareness or know-how to take inventory of your surroundings or aren’t usually able to tell when something isn’t “right,” I wouldn’t recommend traveling solo. It’s important to be aware at all times. This is especially when true when it comes to heading back to your hotel – make sure that nobody is following you!

R: Be Responsible

Listen, I know that one of the most appealing factors of solo travel is engaging with the men (or women) of the area (hello, France). And I’m not going to tell you that you can’t have fun because you can. But, you have to be responsible about it. Even though I’m a big believer in not letting people know where you’re staying, I do think it’s safer to go back to your hotel than to their place. Use my Google Voice trick if they ask for a phone number. Don’t drink too much if you’re going to be alone with someone you just met. Be responsible.

This also means learning the customs of the area so that you don’t stick out too much. Make sure that you’re respecting their traditions and aren’t dressing in a way that will totally expose you as a tourist. Don’t do anything illegal, obviously. Just try not to draw too much attention to yourself. The best way to avoid this is by being responsible and knowing how to behave in advance.

I: Be Able to Improvise

My final tip is to be able to improvise. Sometimes, you’ll slip up and forget your fake name or give something away. You’ll say you’re traveling alone in front of a group of people and you’re going to need to be able to come up with something on the spot. Try to learn more than one way back to your hotel. When going abroad, I try to stay places that have a hotel shuttle, but if they don’t offer one try to be ready in case you need to change course.

Also, if you go to do an activity that suddenly doesn’t feel “right,” have a backup plan in place! Time is precious when on vacation so make sure you’re ready with a Plan B. You don’t have to miss out on everything just because you’re alone. Just be careful.

I realize my tips might make it seem like traveling alone is scary, but honestly, it’s not. You just need to be prepared and, well, “scarier” than any potential issues.

As a bonus, here are some of my favorite self-defense items:

10 Reasons Why I Love Traveling Solo

I love traveling solo – it’s fun, empowering, and I’ve had great experiences so far. But I get many people asking me why I like it so much, and if there are any things that I don’t like about it. So, here’s my Top 10 list of why I love traveling soo – and three things that I don’t.

1. I get to do what I want!

This is a pretty obvious reason. When I travel solo, I get to see what I want, when I want. There’s no, “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” back-and-forth all day. If I want to go into a store, I go. If I’m crazing pizza, I don’t have to worry about if someone is craving tacos. 

It’s healthy to be a bit selfish and put yourself first sometimes, and if I’m going to spend money on a trip, I want to make sure that it’s (mostly) spent the way I want to. I’m more into history and culture than a lot of my friends – I wouldn’t drag them to museums, and then I’d be disappointed we didn’t go. I’ve never been to Vegas before – but I’ve been invited. Still, I’ve never gone because I would want to see shows, not just party, so I wouldn’t want to go somewhere that I wouldn’t be able to have a trip that I would actually enjoy. Traveling solo means that I get to have the trip I want guilt-free.

2. I don’t have to wait around.

My friends are great, but some spend half their day getting ready to go out. I am not about that life. I am the friend who sets an alarm even on vacation so I have time to work out and enjoy my coffee before venturing out for the day, so if I did that just to spend the next four hours waiting for my friend to get ready, I’d spend the whole trip annoyed. I’m not always the most punctual of people, but I’m usually within 5-10 minutes of on time. If I can’t rely on some of my friends to make it to a brunch reservation within the hour we had reserved, I’m not sure that traveling will be a fun and no-stress experience.

3. I can be more flexible and adaptable.

On my recent trip to Greece, I decided that I didn’t want to do the horseback riding tour I’d booked anymore because it would change the type of trip I was having. So, I canceled it. I like having the freedom to change my plans. If I realize I want more time at one place or less at another, I can. It’s easier to be flexible when you’re on your own, and I’ve found that flexibility is a must in travel.

4. It’s easier – and more comfortable – to plan

I get it; everyone has different budgets and comfort levels. I don’t spend much money on ‘things.’ I cook and drink primarily at home. I prioritize saving money for travel to afford the type of vacations that I like to take. I’d rather splurge on a hotel than one night out. But, of course, not everyone is like that, and that’s okay! But I have learned that it’s difficult to overcome when attempting to plan travel with friends. 

I will never be okay with staying at a hostel – I did that in college, and it was enough. I don’t need a luxury resort, but I like to feel safe, comfortable, and know that where I’m staying provides at least a bit more than the bare minimum. But it can be hard to find a compromise with friends who are okay with hostels and only the basics, and I’ve found that things rarely get planned when there are such differences in comfort levels and budgets. 

Solo day trip to Seville, Spain.

5. I get to meet new people and make friends.

I’m a very social and outgoing person. I love meeting new people, and I’ve been able to meet some great people by traveling solo. Not having a friend or someone there as a “buffer” forces me to put myself out there. I’ve had so many fun conversations with people because if I wanted to talk to someone, I had to be brave! Getting to know the people is a great way to get to know the culture of where you are. I’ve had so many people strike up conversations with me once they see I’m alone (and not in a creepy way). Talking to strangers and making friends in new cities is a great way to build confidence, and I’ve found it’s easier to do so when you’re traveling alone.

6. I feel confident and empowered.

It’s a great feeling to do something outside your comfort zone, and I always feel empowered AF during and after a trip. Especially when people I meet constantly tell me how cool and brave it is to travel solo and how impressed they are, it’s a nice little confidence boost. I like knowing that I’m confident enough – and secure enough – to do something special for myself. I believe in accepting and loving yourself first and foremost. To me, solo travel is the ultimate way to ‘date’ and love myself.

7. I don’t miss out.

Especially when traveling internationally, if you’re going somewhere, you want to make sure you make the most out of it. Traveling with others, or especially a big group, you can easily run the risk of not getting to see everything you wanted due to lack of time. Or, you do, but your friends didn’t, which also sucks. Also, if an opportunity comes up that you’re dying to do, but it overlaps with other plans, that’s never fun. For the record, I’m a big believer in compromise. When traveling with family or no-stress friends, I’m happy to check out things that might not have been #1 on my list. Still, it’s nice to give yourself opportunities where you’re only doing what you want.  

Mamma Mia! My trip to Santorini, Greece

Did you really think I was going to write a post completely dedicated to Greece and NOT make a “Mamma Mia” reference?

To think that I almost didn’t go to Greece. In the week or two leading up to going, I was just not as excited for some reason. But, honestly, I’ve been in a weird place lately. So, I think I was just getting myself anxious and paranoid over nothing. But I am SO glad that I went.

The Journey

I had a long layover in Paris, France, where I had planned on going to Brussels and back. That trip would have made Belgium the 29th country I’ve been to, so Greece would be #30. That did not happen.

After two flights already – Boston to Atlanta, and Atlanta to Paris – I was exhausted. When I got to Paris, and I finally found my way out of the airport, I decided to first stop at my hotel. I desperately needed to take some things out of my bag. Then, I decided to take the train from Charles De Gaulle airport to the station in Paris, where I’d take the train to Brussels. The Universe had other plans, though. 

As I walked in, a policeman came up to me and started speaking very quickly and loudly in French. I thought maybe I’d gone in the wrong way, so I asked him if I had done something wrong. He started spouting off in French again, at which point I stopped him and asked if he could say everything he’d just said but in English. It turns out something had happened at baggage claim – right by the train station – and it was “very dangerous,” so they were evacuating. That meant no trains. I looked into taking the bus, but it would have taken forever, and I’d have missed my train. Also, cabs were way too expensive and would still take a long time. So, I decided not to go. (Side note, next time I’m in Paris, I am absolutely taking a Moto Uber).

Instead, I went to Paris for a few hours. Which, I can’t (and won’t) complain about. I didn’t have a plan; I just asked which bus would take me close to something cool and ended up near the Opera House. Fitting, since I love to sing. And there was a little area named “Madeleine” right by it! After that, I went to Sephora (of course) because I needed nail polish to fix my manicure. I walked into some other shops, had dinner, and got some macarons before heading back to my hotel to get some sleep. I had an early flight the next day. 

Honestly, being in Paris for the few hours I was there that day reminded me even more of how much I love it. I could see myself doing some “Emily in Paris” type of thing – except, you know, “Madeline in Paris.” To start, even though everyone says French people are rude, I don’t get that. Everyone I encountered was so friendly and helpful. I mean, in the stores, I had some women like push past me, but that happens everywhere.

Also, French guys LOVE me. I have some theories for why that I won’t get into. Still, I can easily say that one French guy made me feel more appreciated, more beautiful, and more understood, and was just generally more romantic than every other guy I’ve been with – combined. So, I like French guys. They like me. It’s a match. What I’m getting at is that I’ve decided I need to marry a French guy, so moving to Paris seems to make sense in making that happen. 

But I’m digressing. So, let’s move on to Greece. 

After a flight delay with no communication and a 3-hour flight sitting in what was probably the most uncomfortable airplane seat, and the least amount of legroom I have ever experienced, I arrived in Santorini! 

I got to my hotel, Petit Palace, and oh my goodness, it was beyond beautiful. Check-in was a breeze, and my room was gorgeous. So spacious, the bathroom was huge, and the view from my balcony was insane. I could not believe that I would get to walk out to that view every morning of my trip!

After a quick late lunch at the hotel, I took the shuttle into Fira, the main town in Santorini. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but it was so fun! It’s filled with cute shops, bars, and restaurants. There were so many stores that sold custom shoes; I was fascinated. 

I was already regretting not bringing a good hat on my trip, so I got a cute sun hat, found a place that sells alcohol to-go and had my first Aperol Spritz, and snagged a great spot to watch my first Santorini sunset. It was gorgeous; I took so many photos. After, I went back to my hotel and got some sleep to get ready for my first full day.

Day One

My first trip adventure was a vineyard tour and wine tasting that I did with Santorini Wine Tours, and I honestly could not recommend it enough. We visited three local vineyards; there are so many great vineyards there that I think they change it up. I can’t remember the third name, but the first was Art Space Wine, and the second was Artemis Karamolegos. I think the third was Venetsanos, which is one of the most famous ones. At each place, we also had some food like cheese and crackers and things. So many olives, I loved it.

At the last spot, we also had a fantastic view of the caldera too. I was with three couples, and they were all so lovely, we had a wonderful time. I tried different types of Assyrtiko (which I love) and a few other types of wine, I liked them all. Even the dessert one! Nobody else did, but I like the sweet stuff. 

After the wine tour, I went back to my hotel and relaxed before walking from Fira to Imerovigli. Google Maps and my hotel told me it would only take 25 minutes, but it took me almost an hour. It was uphill, mostly, and in heeled sandals! Then again, I did go a kind of weird way to avoid this guy from my shuttle who was trying to get me to invite him to hang out with me. 

I was able to get a last-minute reservation at The Wine Bar, which was honestly probably one of the best meals I’ve ever had. To drink, I had the Santorini Spritz to drink and the shrimp saganaki. I also had a PRIME view of the sunset. Everyone told me Oia had the best sunsets, but, spoiler alert, Imerovigli was my favorite. It was also probably my favorite town in Santorini, but I was just getting started!

Fira sunset

Day Two

On my second day, I was initially planning on doing a horseback riding tour on one of the black beaches, but I decided to cancel it and spend the morning by the pool instead. I had a visit from a stray dog while I was there! I think she was pregnant. Then, I took the shuttle to Fira and, from there, the bus to Oia. 

My first stop was an essential visit to a cafe for an iced coffee, or “frappe.” Then, I wandered around the shops – there are so many! Everyone was so kind and welcoming; I ended up having so many conversations with people. Greek people are great. I wanted to visit Atlantis Books, but sadly it ended up being closed the week I was there. So instead, I started to do a bit of souvenir shopping for my family and eyed some gorgeous jewelry (someday!).

I also walked to the castle overlook and got some perfect shots of the view. Then I wandered some more before I had dinner. I found a place called Thalami, and I was thrilled because they had spanikopita, one of my favorite foods. I tried the Mediterranean pasta – I could honestly eat a whole bowl of their capers. The food there is so fresh and so delicious. I miss it already. 

After dinner, I thought about staying for the sunset, but it was just so crowded. So, instead, I found a spot where I could see the start of it and then took the bus back to Fira. I had a glass of wine at Town Bar and chatted with the bartender and another employee for a bit. The bartender told me that she gets solo travelers a lot, but my “story” was that my friend/former roommate was joining me from Greece the next day. But, they confirmed that my name is Greek – which someone the day before told me it wasn’t – and we talked about astrology.

Then, I went back to my hotel to get some sleep! There was one couple from New Jersey and Florida that I ran into almost every time I took the shuttle – isn’t there always that one person/family you see multiple times on a trip? We always had them when we went on cruises. I guess they were the Greece version.

One Night in Montreal

22 hours in Canada.

There’s something that you should know about me.

When I set my mind to something and have a goal in mind, it is nearly impossible to get me to let it go. I can be single-minded at times, and my 30 by 30 goal is no exception. So as soon as the world started to open up again post-pandemic, my restless, travel-loving self was anxious to get back to crossing some places off the list.

Believe it or not, despite living in Boston for so long, I have never been to Canada. When I was in college, there was this big “ski” weekend that many of the sororities and fraternities would do. They’d go to Montreal to “ski,” aka a bit of skiing, but a lot of drinking, too. I was in a sorority, so I was invited, but I never went. In college, I just wasn’t into drinking or partying a lot. I was a late bloomer in several ways. So anyway, that was pretty much my only chance to go to Canada, and I never took it. I was planning to cruise to Canada last year but canceled it even before COVID because of the job I had at the time. So I decided that Canada should be my next stop before risking it closing up again.

I picked a day and was extremely excited to find out that Montreal has a Sofitel. When I had a long layover at London Gatwick Airport, I stayed at a Sofitel and it was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on. Obviously, I immediately booked a room there. I downloaded the ArriveCAN app, got my COVID test, and set off for just under a 5-hour drive to Montreal.

Honestly, the drive was not bad at all. It’s actually a beautiful drive, even though it rained for most of it. I saw parts of New Hampshire and Vermont that I hadn’t seen before. I was also weirdly amused by the “Moose Crossing” and “Bear Crossing” signs. When I got to the border, it was easy sailing going through. The hardest part was not oversharing too much. Whenever I’m questioned like that, I always feel like maybe I DID do something wrong. I definitely went way too into detail on some questions, though. But I made it through! After that, it was just another hour or so to Montreal.

I really thought that Montreal would have traffic signs in both French and English. But, I quickly learned that was not the case. I was grateful that my dad reminded me to switch my speedometer to KM instead of MPH, and I was grateful for the bit of French I knew that I could understand where I was going. I made it to my hotel safely, got checked in and settled, and then set out.

My first stop was to Tim Horton’s because that is basically the most quintessentially “Canada” thing I can think of. Well, besides poutine, which I won’t eat. I hate gravy, sorry. It was not as exciting or impressive as I thought it might be, but caffeine is caffeine, so it served its purpose. After that, I just walked around for a while, exploring the area near my hotel. I saw a really beautiful art museum and some cool sculptures outside, a pretty park, and interesting buildings. I picked a cute little brasserie not too far from my hotel for dinner because I was starving. The bartender there was so sweet. He gave me so many tips. I wish I had been there for more than one night. He told me so many places to try and gave me a glass of wine on the house. My cheeseburger was delicious, too.

After that, I went back to my hotel to call it an early night. I slept SO well in the amazing Sofitel bed, and in the morning, I set off to see more of Montreal. I found out that the other thing they’re famous for is bagels, so I figured that was a good thing to try. Unfortunately for Canada, my family is from New York/New Jersey. When it comes to bagels, I am VERY picky and have high standards, so while the bagel wasn’t bad, I have absolutely had better.

After breakfast, I wandered down to Notre Dame Cathedral. Sadly, I couldn’t go inside, but the outside is absolutely gorgeous. Then I strolled through the Old Montreal area and went inside some cute little shops and bakeries before making my way to La Grande Roue de Montreal, which is kind of like their London Eye. The views were amazing. The whole area was pretty cute; actually, they had some little stands and games set up. It was cool.

After that, I figured it was time to get on the road soon. First, I went through this massive market but found that many shops were closed because of COVID. If I go back, hopefully, more will be open. Then I made my way back to my hotel and started my drive back to Boston. Once again, it was easy to get through the border. I was happy to be back in the land of miles per hour and English traffic signs.

If I’m honest, the best part of the trip was that I took a bit longer on the way back so that I could go to Ben and Jerry’s headquarters and get ice cream. They also have a “flavor graveyard” with headstones for all of their retired flavors. I loved it.

And that was my overnight trip to Montreal! Altogether, I think I was there for like 22 hours, but it was good to see and get a taste of it. Of course, I also got to cross it off my list – bringing me to 28!

I would love to go back to Canada someday because the people were so sweet, and I’m sure there’s so much more to see and do, but I wasn’t overly impressed with Montreal. Maybe if the weather was nicer or if I’d brought clothes (and had the energy) to go to one of the speakeasies, I’d feel differently. But, I’ll give it another chance someday.

Have you been to Canada before? What’s your favorite city there?